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Contemporary analysis and criticism

Part of the Science Networks. Historical Studies book series (SNHS, volume 37)

Abstract

From the few and erratic observations of Venus’ satellite it was impossible to conclude with any certainty whether the object existed or not. Theory offered no help, for neither physical nor astronomical theory had anything to say about the number and distribution of satellites in the solar system. If it was assumed that the companion of Venus really existed — and it just might — why was it seen only so rarely and irregularly? Conversely, if it was assumed that it did not exist, such as the majority of astronomers thought, how could the observation claims be accounted for? After all, something had definitely been seen, real or not. During the 1760s and 1770s, when the non-existence of the moon became the favoured view, basically three explanatory accounts were developed to address the questions. One was due to Mairan in Paris, the other to Hell in Vienna, and the third to Lambert in Berlin. Some other explanations, suggested in the nineteenth century, will be discussed in Chapter 6.

Keywords

Solar Atmosphere Earth Radius Ghost Image Optical Illusion Ocular Lens 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

  1. 1.
    Mairan 1764, p. 164. An almost identical version of the memoir appeared in Journal des Sçavans, August 1762, pp. 528–533. Given that Mairan read his first memoir to the Academy on 8 May 1762, about a year after Baudouin gave his addresses on the satellite of Venus, his silence with respect to Baudouin and Montaigne is puzzling. It is hard to believe that this work was unknown to him. Mairan’s defense of the satellite of Venus was briefly mentioned by the Greifswald astronomer Lampert Röhl in a book of 1768 dealing with the Venus transits (Röhl 1768, p. 141).Google Scholar
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